New T-SPLOST Trouble: NAACP Set To Announce Opposition

May 25, 2012 18:44 pm

by Charlie · 72 comments

For those reading this while stuck in holiday Friday traffic, you should know that the AJC’s Ariel Hart is reporting that the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP is preparing to announce official statewide opposition to the upcoming T-SPLOST vote.  The DeKalb County chapter had previously indicated opposition.

Perhaps the best reaction is from paid advocate Jeff Dickerson, who says the NAACP is out of step with black leaders.  No really.

A spokesman for the campaign to pass the Atlanta-area referendum, Jeff Dickerson, replied that the NAACP was “out of step with African-American leaders” on the issue. He cited supporters such as U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson, and former Ambassador Andrew Young.

So, the TEA Party (angry white Republicans), Sierra Club (Angry white Democrats), and the NAACP (Black people who don’t know their place) have all lined up against the Governor, Chamber of Commerce, and Arthur Blank.

Pass the popcorn.  This is just STARTING to get fun.

oldman45 May 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Me and the NAACP on the same page…miracles really happen!

bullFrog May 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Group hug.

Rick Day May 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm

MELONS FOR ALL!

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 25, 2012 at 11:59 pm

The number of grass-roots groups across the political spectrum that keep coming out against the T-SPLOST should have the backers of this thing really concerned.

Baker May 26, 2012 at 11:13 am

Except a lot of those ‘grass-roots’ groups were long ago rendered irrelevant, with memberships based on historical precedence more than current-day issues (not the Tea Party before anyone jumps down my throat).

debbie0040 May 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

The Sierra Club and NAACP are not irrelevant to the voters that agree with their ideology. You also have lawsuits that will happen if TIA (funny how the MAVEN crowd have now changed to calling it TIA) passes and people that served on the Regional Round Table are now coming out in opposition to T-SPLOST/TIA. Rep. Sean Jurgeson has now threatened legal action because of the hidden maintenance costs for MARTA..

We knew that if we stayed on message, T-SPLOST would implode. The Metro Atlanta is killing T-SPLOSTs in other regions because people are now closely examining T-SPLOSTS in their region because of the bad publicity for the Metro Atlanta T-SPLOST/TIA

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 26, 2012 at 11:13 pm

The Tea Party (and now the Sierra Club and the NAACP) didn’t have to stay on or even have an anti-tax message for the T-SPLOST to implode as this thing was doomed the minute that the roundtable proposed to use most of Cobb County’s share of T-SPLOST revenue to fund that ill-conceived and poorly thought-out light rail line from Midtown to Cumberland Mall.

The T-SPLOST (sorry, the TIA) was even further doomed when the state decided to lazily convert the existing HOV-2 lanes on I-85 Northeast to HOT/HOV-3 lanes causing many additional traffic nightmares for residents in a county (Gwinnett) that has already been victimized by a series of ethics scandals involving county government leaders.

Not to mention the continuing displeasure of many residents of Fulton and DeKalb Counties who will have another one-percent “transportation” sales tax added to the existing one-percent sales tax that they already pay to fund MARTA.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 26, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Ms. Dooley, you were correct that this should have been a tax referendum that was dedicated 100% towards roads.

This T-SPLOST campaign that poorly attempts to only half-heartedly fund both roads and transit instead should have been a region-by-region campaign to raise the state’s inadequate gas tax to fund road improvements only.

Any effort to add new expressway lane miles (NOT existing lane miles like the I-85 HOT Lanes) should be funded with user fees in the form of tolls like our prosperous friends in Texas and our neighbors in Florida.

While any efforts to improve and upgrade transit should be funded with public-private partnerships, donations from pro-transit taxpayers, Tax Increment Financing (property tax revenues from future development along transit lines), increasing advertising revenues, user fees in the form of more reasonably-priced fares (fares high-enough to actually help finance most, if not ALL of the cost of constructing, operating, maintaining and even expanding the transit service) and fees on traffic fines, parking fines and parking spaces.

Baker May 27, 2012 at 12:24 am

Alright LDIG: “Any effort to add new expressway lane miles (NOT existing lane miles like the I-85 HOT Lanes) should be funded with user fees in the form of tolls like our prosperous friends in Texas and our neighbors in Florida.”

You heard it hear folks. I will attempt to say a lot more tomorrow, but it’s late on a Sat evening. Whatever “Plan B” is, which will surely take 5 years for us to get to, let everyone know that the Last Dem in Georgia says toll roads are open for business.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 27, 2012 at 1:25 am

If the powers-that-be really felt that strongly about the need to add HOT Lanes to the I-85 Northeast Corridor then they should have ADDED them to the roadway by taking the time and effort to do the project CORRECTLY and building 2-3 reversible tolled carpool lanes elevated above the median of the right-of-way of I-85 with the existing HOV-2 lanes being converted to general-purpose lanes and opened to all traffic except trucks and trailers with more than six wheels.

As an example of how tolls can work when utilized properly (UNLIKE the I-85 HOT Lanes in which tolls were lazily put on existing HOV-2 lanes), look at how impressively Texas economic powerhouse metros Houston and Dallas (two metro areas that are both roughly the same population of Metro Atlanta) have greatly enhanced and supplemented their local road infrastructures with targeted toll road projects:

Houston-
https://www.hctra.org/tollroads
https://www.hctra.org/tollroads_map/
https://www.hctra.org/downloadable_systemMap/downloadable_systemMap.html

Dallas-
https://www.ntta.org/roadsprojects/existroad/Pages/default.aspx

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 27, 2012 at 2:18 am

Within the Houston toll network there are three toll roads (Hardy Toll Road in North Metro Houston, Westpark Tollway in West Metro Houston and Fort Bend Parkway in Southwest Metro Houston) that were converted at least partially or almost completely out of existing surface streets and roads.

Hardy Toll Road on the Northside of Houston was converted almost completely out of an existing major surface road (Hardy Road) and closely parallels nearby Interstate 45 while largely straddling both sides of an existing freight rail right-of-way that has been targeted by Houston-area and Texas officials to be the site of a future regional commuter rail line connecting Downtown Houston with the distant North Houston exurbs.

Westpark Tollway on the Westside of Houston was converted partially out of existing surface roads and a former freight railroad right-of-way.

Converting selected major surface roads into partially-tolled super-arteries (sort of like a Peachtree Industrial Boulevard but with tolled express/through lanes and FREE local surface/at-grade lanes) and toll roads combined with the implementation of a SELF-FUNDED (non tax revenue/non tax increase-funded) regional commuter rail network is a targeted approach that Georgia can use to greatly relieve severe traffic congestion in major transportation corridors throughout the Atlanta Region.

Baker May 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm

“100% dedicated towards roads”? Let’s just make I-75/85, the connector, 285, whatever else, let’s make ‘em 40 lanes.

It’ll help traffic right? We could just make every square bit that is not someone’s house or office space a drive-able surface and then we’d be good.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

“Let’s just make I-75/85, the connector, 285, whatever else, let’s make ‘em 40 lanes…….It’ll help traffic right?”

Well, if it’ll make you happy, be my guest, though I always assumed you to be more of a transit enthusiast, myself.

But as car-obsessed Houston has so aptly demonstrated with their maximum investments in road infrastructure (as compared to virtually every other major city on the continent), we can definitely help traffic flow better by engaging in maximum widenings of freeways (many sections of the I-10 West/Katy Freeway in Houston are now as many as 26 lanes wide).

But without a viable rail transit alternative severe traffic congestion is still a major problem in Houston as the max widening approach has moved the worst jams to the sections of the freeway system (often inside the I-610 Loop) that cannot be widened as easily, if at all and the Houston metro area is still (obviously) at or near the top of the rankings in annual miles driven and annual hours lost to traffic delays and is still actively seeking a viable and sustainable rail transit option despite the maximum freeway widenings.
http://www.hgaccommuterrail.com/docs/HGAC%20Commuter%20Rail%20-%20Relative%20Demand%20Potential_2.pdf

We will still need to invest substantially in a sustainable rail transit approach to help tackling traffic congestion as without meaningful rail transit alternatives widening the freeways does nothing more but creates exponentially more traffic to fill-up those extra lanes.

Though it should be noted that despite the lack of investment in viable transit alternatives while making maximum investments in road infrastructure, Houston is still credited within the business world with investing heavily in its transportation infrastructure.

Unlike Atlanta has largely done for much of the past two decades, Houston has not sat idly by and refused to do absolutely nothing about transportation during a boomtime era of explosive population growth.

Sure Houston went out and attempted to solve traffic congestion by attempting to widen some roads to as many as 30 lanes, but at least they did something to show the world that they are willing to do whatever it takes to remain more than viable for business investment and economic growth.

Unlike Atlanta which has sat by and done nothing for so long and until officials recently finally decided to do something that is obviously less than half-hearted, very lazy and extremely flawed in a poor attempt just to get people to shut-up and quit nagging them about transportation infrastructure needs while they chase lobbyist money, gifts and perks.

Dave Bearse May 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm

It not just any ol’ people nagging. It’s the Chamber. The Chamber’s investment in T-SPLOST beyond General Assembly campaign contribution and dinner and entertainment retainer is a $6M advertsing campaign. The payoff is $7B in transportation improvements wholly paid for by consumers. The Chamber’s order of magnitude payoff is $600M. The General Assembly is the best investment the Chamber can make.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm

“The General Assembly is the best investment the Chamber can make.”

Yeah, no doubt…The Georgia General Assembly is the best investment that ANY high-dollar lobbying organization can make because as they say “Money talks and bullsh** walks”…

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 27, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Atlanta, while it can adopt some of Houston’s maximum road infrastructure approach to transportation planning and management, obviously cannot completely imitate Houston’s maximum road approach due to substantial political, geographical and topographical differences.

Unlike Houston, topographically rolling-to-hilly-to-slightly mountainous Atlanta’s freeway network does not have the overabundance of grassy and treeless right-of-way lining major roads available to pursue a maximum road widening approach like that of a topographically-flat Houston where the existing treeless right-of-way for some sections the I-10 West/Katy Freeway was already as much as one-eighth of a mile wide before it was widened to as many as 26 lanes in spots (with space on the pavement for 28-30 lanes if necessary).

And unlike Houston, many of Atlanta’s primary surface routes are two-lane roads lined with very substantial existing residential development which makes extensive widening of those roads politically impossible (see heavily-congested major roads like Lenox Rd and Lindbergh Rd in Atlanta, LaVista Rd and Rockbridge Rd in DeKalb, Lower Roswell Rd and Old Canton Rd in Cobb and Rockbridge Rd and Five Forks Trickum Rd in Gwinnett).

The substantial geographical, topographical and political limitations on Atlanta’s road network makes the development of a highly-sustainable (preferably self-funded) regional commuter bus and commuter rail network even that much more of a necessity in the increasingly transportation-challenged Atlanta Region.

debbie0040 May 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

There were some worthy projects thrown in with fiscally irresponsible projects. The members of the round table that for for the Metro project list thought people would just look at what it would mean for them and their area and not look at the total list.

Because groups like the tea parties started waving red flags about the list, people started paying attention to the entire list. Projects like 600 million dedicated for the Belt-line will do nothing for traffic congestion and the Cumberland Rail line comes to mind as wasteful projects..

Just for the record, had the referendum been done the right way (Rep. Ed Setzler’s bills) and the projects been fiscally responsible, many tea party activists would have supported it.

The MAVEN group planned this very poorly and thought they could throw 7 million dollars at it and T-SPLOST would pass. Now that things are not working out as planned, they are trying to point the finger and place the total blame on the anti tax mood instead of their own ineptness..

I could support increasing the gas tax once the gas prices come down to a managable level and others could as well.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

“I could support increasing the gas tax once the gas prices come down to a managable level and others could as well.”

In other words, NEVER!

The days of $1.00, $2.00 and even $3.00-a-gallon gas are likely gone forever.

Gas prices will likely never again go down to a level of what we would like to think of as being manageable.

Heck, just the fact that gas prices are staying under $4.00-a-gallon and have not gone up to $5.00 or even $6.00-a-gallon like the spectulators and oil companies would undoubtedly seem to prefer makes gas prices as manageable as they are going to get for the foreseeable future.

And yet, even though gas prices may never again sink to what they were in the days of our glorious past, our transportation needs seem to be as prevalent as ever.

People may hate gas taxes, but the gas tax is still and will remain the best way to recover the costs of maintenance, especially for all of the roads that cannot physically or politically charge user fees in the form of tolls.

People float ideas like charging a wheel tax or a mileage tax on residents, but user fees in the form of gas taxes are the most effective way to pay for roads because EVERYONE who uses the roads pays gas taxes, especially out-of-state drivers who use our roads to travel to another destination (like drivers from points north who use Interstates 75 and 95 to travel to and from Florida and I-85 to travel to and from the Gulf Coast during vacation periods) and very heavy cargo trucks who use our roads heavily to transport goods and often cause the most damage to our roads.

As we are witnessing right now, our transportation infrastructure needs don’t really seem to recede all that much when gas prices go up or the economy slows down.

If competing states like Texas, Florida and North Carolina (who has almost the same exact population as Georgia, by the way) can keep investing heavily in their transportation infrastructures during a period of higher gas prices and slower economic growth, than by golly, so can Georgia, the Empire State of The South.

Rambler1414 May 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm

“but the gas tax is still and will remain the best way to recover the costs of maintenance”

For now, correct.

In the future, it will be a congestion-based VMT tax.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_miles_traveled_tax

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm

That Vehicles Miles Tax had better be collectable on the out-of-state vehicles and trucks that cause the most problems and damage to local road networks like the gas tax is already, otherwise state governments will face the prospect of losing money on roads if they cannot collect on out-of-state vehicles and heavy trucks.

A very big concern about a VMT is that the tax won’t be collectable on out-of-state vehicles, unless of course there is some type of GPS tracking device that tracks how much one drives in different states, technology in which we get into issues of concerns about privacy, etc.

NoTeabagging May 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Debbie darling, look at the timeline… The beltline mass transit projects are not on the schedule to start for at least 20 years! other projects, ie ROADS have priority and early/ASAP starting dates.
http://www.t-splost.com/ sidebar link http://www.velag.org/3_atlanta-invlist.pdf

I can’t find anything about Cumberland and rail, only express bus and it is for 2040 or beyond. Help me out on that one.

Rambler1414 May 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Haven’t you already gone on record here saying that if the project list was 100% Roads, you’d still advocate voting against it based on the legal/constitutional issues?

Baker May 27, 2012 at 12:30 am

So I’ve now read the article: The NAACP is opposing because 1) there is not enough transit in south DeKalb? Well when “Plan B” comes along, I’m sure our Northeast Georgia Republican led government will get right on that. and 2) they are concerned about minorities getting in on the contracting involved?

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 27, 2012 at 4:03 am

“The NAACP is opposing because 1) there is not enough transit in south DeKalb?”

Yes, you read that correctly. The NAACP is opposing the T-SPLOST because the political bone thrown their way in the form of a (rather substantial) $225 million investment in dramatically improving bus transit in the I-20 East Corridor just is not nearly enough.

The NAACP and South DeKalbers will accept nothing less than what is basically a blatant political bribe in the form of a much more expensive and much more poorly-placed boondoogle MARTA rail transit line out I-20 East to Stonecrest Mall, even though there is obviously nowhere nearly enough density of development to support any possible rail transit line which will be further handicapped by being in and near the right-of-way of a Interstate freeway that is dominated by sprawling, transit-adverse, low-density, auto-dominated development built strictly to car-scale.

Putting a rail transit line in the I-20 East right-of-way is a HORRENDOUS idea as rail transit lines that operate either completely or largely in freeway right-of-ways often tend to struggle in freeway corridors in which virtually all development is built to car scale.

Because they are most often surrounded by freeway lanes and roadways, rail transit lines placed in freeway right-of-ways also have problems being sustainable over the long-term as the type of walkable, transit-friendly commercial and residential development that can sustain the rail transit line by generating pedustrian passenger traffic and helping to pay for the cost of the rail transit line with property tax revenues is often not inspired to move immediately next to or in the middle of a busy freeway.

(See the heavy rail transit line directly in the middle of the median of the I-90/I-94 Dan Ryan Expressway on the Southside of Chicago, the light rail transit line directly in the middle of the median of the I-110 Century Freeway in South Central Los Angeles and, the light rail transit line that runs immediately adjacent to the westside of I-25 on the Southside of Denver for examples of non-sustaining rail transit lines that run through the right-of-ways of freeways for extended distances.)

Because rail transit is so expensive and must be placed in the correct corridor to be sustainable over the long-term and because the state is already planning to build elevated reversible HOT/HOV-3 lanes in that right-of-way outside of I-285, bus transit in the form of park & ride express commuter buses or possibly even park & ride BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), NOT rail transit, is the absolute best transit fit for the I-20 East right-of-way and corridor.

Baker May 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm

So we should pretty much ignore the NAACP opposition because it is based on fantasy right?

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 27, 2012 at 2:06 pm

If the backers of this highly-flawed and misguided T-SPLOST decided to ignore the NAACP then they would also have to ignore the increasing opposition of South DeKalb political leaders, the Tea Party and the Sierra Club, all of whom separately are already some pretty tough opposition, but whom collectively are proving to be some pretty serious, if not insurmountable, opposition to this thing.

gt7348b May 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I know it is hard, let’s try to deal with facts.

The MARTA State of Good Repair projects were on the list from the beginning and discussed at several of the roundtable meetings (on which Sen. Jergensen sat) – so they’re hardly “hidden”. Furthermore, they all are either on the existing MARTA Capital Improvement Program or eligible to be (I think the only one that isn’t is the Airport Station). Finally, the state has defined what MARTA capital projects are since 1971 when it imposed the 50/50 split of capital/operating on the MARTA sales tax. Therefore, MARTA has for over 41 years dividing its projects into capital and operating according the a State of Georgia definition. To put the distinction in lay person terms – it is difference between replacing a few singles (maintenance) versus replacing your entire roof. One is a regular ongoing thing while the other is a non-regular recurring expensive outlay that extends the life of the asset.

Let’s call Sen. Jergensen’s statement what it is – political posturing. There are legitimate areas of debate, but the eligibility of MARTA capital projects is not one of them.

Dave Bearse May 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm

gt7348b, paraphrasing Barney Frank, you’re having a conversation with a dining room table, but hey, it’s a fiscally conservative dining room table.

MARTA was the only Georgia transit agency that T-SPLOST punished by prohibiting funding of its operations, a provision that sought to neutralize the MARTA hate. GRTA would get $128M for operations and capital (TIA-AR-041); GCT would get $40M for operations (TIA-GW-035); plus GCT and CCT are likely to siphon off untold millions in operating support from I-75 ($695M) and I-85 ($95M) bus service projects. Now the argument is that MARTA ought to be punished with a special capital funding prohition.

General sales taxes instead of fuel taxes paid by road users to fund highways statewide is a hand out, so the DeKalb NAACP had its hand out too. Perhaps the GaGOP will learn that you don’t announce a $10B statewide handout, than slap the hands of those whose support is necessary for the hand out to take place. It remains to be seen if Fulton and DeKalb taxpayers will join most of their elected officials in giving the GaGOP an Animal House “Thank you sir may I have another?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm7D5VRfaTI

Harry May 26, 2012 at 12:09 am

This is not a surprise – after all T-SPLOST is a regressive tax which would inordinately impact disadvantaged people, many of whom of course are minorities and who are already being hard hit by the increased cost of living. NAACP has always advocated for the under-advantaged.

It appears the only supporters of T-SPLOST are the the highway lobby and the political class.

Jimmie May 26, 2012 at 12:58 am

Yes indeed. This should be a good one!

joelhaffey May 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

It seems to me that failure to pass the T-SPLOST will represent the biggest missed opportunity for Atlanta’s transportation infrastructure since the referendum to fund MARTA that occurred in the late 60′s / early 70′s. Are opponents proposing an alternative to the T-SPLOST for funding transportation initiatives?

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 27, 2012 at 12:40 am

(Wisely) not passing this extremely-flawed T-SPLOST will only be a missed opportunity because we have lazy and incompetent political leadership whose only concern is lining their pockets with lobbyist money and gifts rather than the future economic well-being of this state.

Dave Bearse May 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Tea Party oppostion was a given. It’s a tax, right?

The emerging story is that another group supportive of transit is refusing to empower an establishment state leadership that ignores it. The T-SPLOST roundtable was simply following in the footsteps of state leadership whose motto in dealing with Democrats is “Talk to the hand” when the original exectuvie committee of white suburban officials.

The establishment need not worry though, three-quarters of the General Asesmebly won’t face opposing party opposition in November. Only a third face any primary opposition. Sure Democrats are in safe seats too, but constiuents are coming to the conclusion there’s no need to listen to elected officials without any influence.

It’s been nearly a decade of GOP control of state government, and will soon be eight years of it in totality. It’s increasing evident that its principal achievement is returning Georgia to the mediocrity of its SC, TN , and AL GOP neighbors.

debbie0040 May 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Elected officials have not been fiscally responsible with the tax dollars they have. They frequently send projects to cronies and put their political cronies with little experience in charge of billions of dollars in tax – payer money.

Why on earth would we want to give them more tax dollars?

debbie0040 May 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm

You cannot go after all the establishment all at one time. You have to pick and choose your targets so as not to greatly disperse the focus…It won’t be done overnight and we are in it for the long haul

Scott65 May 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Lord…where to start. First I use TIA because its easy to remember and easier to type…no agenda there (other than me being lazy). Lets not forget some simple facts.
The gas tax ONLY funds roads/bridges…not a dime goes to transit. Dekalb/Fulton/Atlanta have paid for MARTA for almost 40 years. MARTA rail is an excellent backbone that many like cities would kill to have. We have a highly dysfunctional state government that does not carry out the will of the majority of its citizens (left or right)…nor act in the states best interests (mostly their own best interests). There is no vision in this state and its sad. There is no way on earth this state could build another Hartsfield as things are. I see tons of complaints but little in the way of offered solutions (and no LDIG double decking everything isn’t viable…and its horribly expensive). If you take a look at Houston and Dallas, yes they have massively added road space, and yet, the congestion is as bad if not worse. Perfect example of the Downs-Thompson Paradox
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downs%E2%80%93Thomson_paradox
Debbie…you might not see the value in the Beltline, many people dont, but it will add enormous tax benefits to the city in terms of development (added tax dollars) as well as people in the city being able to make trips without cars, and that relieves congestion for people who commute. Also, the part that is being funded (hopefully) is E/W connectivity across downtown connecting to the Beltline section that will be built out. This might not do anything for you where you are, but frankly hot lanes to 575 will have negligible impact on my life where I live…but they are both very important to people whom they do impact.
I agree that corruption is a big problem and I am truly grateful to all the people (mostly Debbie) who are working so hard to fight said corruption. My fear is that if this does not pass, there will be nothing done for at least 3 years…and 3 years is a long time and we could lose out to other cities who are not standing still

Harry May 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm

The gas tax ONLY funds roads/bridges
No, a large portion of the gas tax goes to the General Fund of the state and localities, meaning it doesn’t fund roads/bridges.

Harry May 28, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Part of the shell game going on is that the politicians don’t want to redirect that source of revenue going to the General Fund from gas taxes to go to transportation improvements; so they put the T-SPLOST on us to fund said improvements and satisfy the lobbying needs of the transportation industry and local pressure groups like MARTA.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Exactly.

Baker May 30, 2012 at 12:29 am

@Harry- So you’d be in favor of a general tax hike elsewhere if the gas tax were directed to only transportation uses?

Harry May 30, 2012 at 9:58 am

No, I’d be in favor of lower spending instead of more taxes. Taxed Enough Already.

Dave Bearse May 29, 2012 at 9:05 am

$0.075 per gallon excise tax. 3% of 4% of the gasoline sales tax to roads and bridges.

I’ll keep in mind for future referuence that you think less than 15% a large fraction.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I never said anything about double-decking freeways, I just made the points that the two major Texas powerhouse metros of Houston and Dallas have invested HEAVILY in their transportation infrastructures over the last couple-of-decades in one form or another (with Houston maxing-out on road investment and Dallas taking a more-balanced multimodal approach of roads and rail) while Atlanta has done virtually absolutely nothing.

Not only has Dallas added new toll roads while largely eschewing the maximum road widening approach that Houston has pursued, but Dallas has also invested heavily in rail transit, implementing a commuter rail line over a decade ago in the Trinity Railway Express that carries just under 10,000 passengers daily to provide traffic congestion relief to paralleling freeways TX Hwy 183 and Interstate 30.

It’s no coincidence that Houston and Dallas are emerging from the economic downtown in a much-stronger position than Atlanta, who at the moment seems to be worrying about merely staying relevant, a problem that a city that fairly recently hosted the Summer Olympics and is home to the World’s Busiest Passenger Airport absolutely should NOT be having.

I also made the point that the I-85 HOT Lanes should have been ADDED to the right-of-way in the form of at least two reversible lanes elevated over the median of I-85, instead of being idiotically and lazily created out of the existing HOV-2 lanes.

Baker May 30, 2012 at 12:32 am

@LDIG: “I just made the points that the two major Texas powerhouse metros of Houston and Dallas have invested HEAVILY in their transportation infrastructures over the last couple-of-decades in one form or another (with Houston maxing-out on road investment and Dallas taking a more-balanced multimodal approach of roads and rail) while Atlanta has done virtually absolutely nothing.

Not only has Dallas added new toll roads while largely eschewing the maximum road widening approach that Houston has pursued, but Dallas has also invested heavily in rail transit, implementing a commuter rail line over a decade ago in the Trinity Railway Express that carries just under 10,000 passengers daily to provide traffic congestion relief to paralleling freeways TX Hwy 183 and Interstate 30.

It’s no coincidence that Houston and Dallas are emerging from the economic downtown in a much-stronger position than Atlanta”

Boom. You just wrote an Untie Atlanta commercial.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 30, 2012 at 1:44 am

Though I don’t necessarily agree with way that the powers-that-be are going about it with this lazy, half-hearted, half-a**ed T-SPLOST, I ask that if we can make these points about infrastructure investment then why can’t our so-called political leaders do the same?

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm

“We have a highly dysfunctional state government that does not carry out the will of the majority of its citizens (left or right)…nor act in the states best interests (mostly their own best interests). There is no vision in this state and its sad.”

Unfortunately, that statement is so very, very, VERY true.

joe May 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm

“MARTA rail is an excellent backbone that many like cities would kill to have.”

Then sell it to them and quit trying to tax those of us who don’t use it. If MARTA were charging what it cost to ride, then there might be a reason to support expansion. But if MARTA were to charge the $20+ per trip (or whatever the real number is), nobody would ride.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 28, 2012 at 9:38 pm

“If MARTA were charging what it cost to ride, then there might be a reason to support expansion. But if MARTA were to charge the $20+ per trip (or whatever the real number is), nobody would ride.”

I respectfully disagree. I don’t think that the number is quite $20 per-trip, I think that the actual number is closer to $10 per-trip, which coincidentially is about what Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) charges ($10.90 one-way for the longest trip on BART to the San Francisco Int’l Airport) to use its buses and trains to get across town in a distance-based/zone-based fare system.
http://www.bart.gov/tickets/calculator/index.aspx

Maybe if MARTA recovered more of its costs at the farebox and actually used those higher fares they collected to provide much better service (more-frequent trains with lower headways, much better security, much higher dependability, etc) instead of being what basically seems to be a travel option of last resort for those who can’t afford a personal vehicle, they would have more riders and substantially more demand for the transit service.

The reason why MARTA’s ridership numbers are currently sinking is because the service is not necessarily as dependable as it could be after continued cuts to service in addition to continued poor management (not unlike its state government transportation peer, GDOT, which is a shell of its former glorious self after over a decade of increasing incompetent management by an increasingly inept state government).

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

“There is no way on earth this state could build another Hartsfield as things are.”

The State of Georgia did not build-up Hartsfield into what it is today, the City of Atlanta did.

Not many anti T-SPLOST people disagree with you and the pro T-SPLOST backers about the positive impact that an economic development project like the Beltline can have on the city.

What most people who are against this thing disagree with is regional sales tax funds being used in the name of traffic relief to fund what is obviously purely a muncipal economic development project in the Beltline that should be funded solely by the City of Atlanta.

The Beltline does not belong in a (highly-flawed and highly-questionable) regionally-funded T-SPLOST that should be dedicated solely to relieving the region’s very severe traffic congestion.

If anything, the Beltline belongs in a City of Atlanta SPLOST that will be paid solely through sales transactions made within the corporate limits of the City of Atlanta.

Baker May 30, 2012 at 12:33 am

Having light rail running along the Beltline will help Atlanta-based drivers get off the roads and make room for OTP commuters.

seekingtounderstand May 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Last Dem: My reps say they want to be like TN and FL and raise the consumption tax to give take breaks to their friends………So which is it Houston, TX or new tax laws like TN and FL?
Or are both coming.
The roads in Hall County look like a third world country…………..keep listening to those folks tell you they want more money for traffic and see where it gets you.

Engineer May 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

90% of the complaints I’ve seen about T-SPLOST have to do with mass transit issues (mostly MARTA or bike lanes). Like I say so many times, hop out of your Atlanta bubble for a minute and the majority of the money for projects outside the Atlanta bubble goes towards roads. However, I will admit that I’m a bit concerned about some of the claims I heard on WSB yesterday about the wording on the ballot.

Self_Made May 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Putting a rail transit line in the I-20 East right-of-way is a HORRENDOUS idea as rail transit lines that operate either completely or largely in freeway right-of-ways often tend to struggle in freeway corridors in which virtually all development is built to car scale.

So tell me what the heck South DeKalb commuters would possibly benefit from OTHER than a rail line to Stonecrest or Conyers? We’ve seen our jobs move from ITP to N. Fulton…doubling or even tripleing our commutes, with NO transportation solutions, roadway or transit. Express Busses?? Is that a joke?? With I-20 already inadequate with NO remaining ROW availability? Just how is that supposed to help? The state strategy of starving and manupulating the finances of MARTA until it has become inadequate and inefficient (the Grady strategy), then condemning it as poorly managed and unworthy of additional investment (TIA for operations) seems to work pretty well. Meanwhile, Cobb and Gwinnett continue to benefit from the suprisingly more attractive and efficient N/NW lines with free transfers from their bus systems without paying in a dime.

It’s really sad that some people refuse to believe that black voters in the South Metro can have CONSUMER BASED opinions and positions on issues. I disagree with the NAACP on most issues, as well as the “minority contractor” issues, but on the I-20 rail and no TIA operational funding for MARTA, I’m in full agreement.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm

“So tell me what the heck South DeKalb commuters would possibly benefit from OTHER than a rail line to Stonecrest or Conyers?”

Maybe South DeKalb commuters might possibly benefit slightly from this tiny little proposal that appears in the TIA list for $225 MILLION worth of upgraded bus service that will run in the current HOV-2 lanes between Downtown and Stonecrest Mall, HOV-2 lanes that the state is planning to “upgrade” (a term that should be taken with a grain of salt) to elevated HOT/HOV-3 lanes from I-285 out to at least Conyers.
http://documents.atlantaregional.com/tia/pdf/TIA-M-023.pdf

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm

In addition to the proposed $225 MILLION bus line (which is a VERY substantial amount for a single individual bus line, by the way) between Downtown Atlanta and Stonecrest Mall, GDOT is supposedly in the process of building some collector/distributor ramps along both sides of I-20 between I-285 East and Panola Rd.
http://www.ajc.com/news/summer-roadwork-shifts-into-1447339.html
http://crossroadsnews.com/bookmark/17643577

There are unfunded (of course) plans to implement regional commuter rail on the CSX-Georgia Railroad line that runs east out of Downtown Atlanta out to East Central Georgia through Inman Park, Candler Park, Decatur, Avondale Estates, Clarkston, Stone Mountain Village, the City of Lithonia and through the intersection of GA Hwy 124/Turner Hill Road & US Hwy 278/Covington Highway just north of Stonecrest Mall.
http://www.dot.state.ga.us/travelingingeorgia/rail/Documents/CommuterRailMap.pdf
http://www.dot.state.ga.us/maps/Documents/railroad/nga_passenger.pdf

Rail transit of any type would work much better on the CSX-Georgia RR line right-of-way in a corridor that includes many Intown neighborhoods and historic downtown where the density of walkable, transit-friendly development and population exists to actually support and sustain it over the long-term.

That type of density of development and population simply does not exist anywhere on the I-20 right-of-way corridor where running a virtually cost-prohibitive rail line that is possibly as twice as expensive (or more) as the already $225 million bus service proposed for I-20 East would do nothing more than repeat the extremely costly mistake of running rail transit lines in the right-of-way of freeways for extended distances, extremely costly mistakes that cities like Chicago (I-90/I-94 Dan Ryan Expwy rail transit line), Washington D.C./Northern Virginia (I-66 West DC Metro heavy rail line), Denver (I-25 South light rail line) and Los Angeles (I-110 Century Freeway light rail line) would be more than happy to tell you about.

Self_Made May 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

The gas tax ONLY funds roads/bridges…not a dime goes to transit. Dekalb/Fulton/Atlanta have paid for MARTA for almost 40 years.

Agreed. I’d like to see PROOF from those who claim otherwise…not “shell game” conjecture.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm

State gas taxes collected in Georgia are not permitted to be spent on anything else other than roads and bridges as per the State Constitution.

Dave Bearse May 30, 2012 at 1:51 am

1% of the 4% state sales tax on motor fuel goes to the general fund, so the statement is not entirely correct.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 30, 2012 at 1:55 am

Very true, though we all know that the state sales tax is absolutely not allowed to transit for obvious political reasons.

seekingtounderstand May 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm

And due to the rule that requires the money be spent equally thru out GA we have many roads in rural areas which where not needed and Atlanta suffers. Maybe they should change the rule to based on population numbers……………….
TSPLOST money can be redirected at the beck and call of those in charge. Its not iron clad to certain projects.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I wouldn’t necessarily say that any new or improved roads in rural Georgia were not needed as Georgia’s gas taxes are widely recognized as being inadequate to support what up until recently had been a fast-growing state with a rapidly-expanding major metro area around its principal and most dominant and most populous city.

People in rural areas also need roads, too, as business and commerce also exist in greater abundance than most people in urban areas seem to be aware of.

The difference between Georgia and other large states with one or more highly-populated, very-dominant metro areas is that those urban areas often pay more to get around than we have grown accustomed to paying in Metro Atlanta.

People are whining and bit*hing and complaining like its the end of the world because they have to pay a freakin’ measly 50-cent toll on Georgia 400 and a measly $2.50 one-way fare on MARTA while in other metro areas it is nothing for commuters to pay $3.00 or more per-trip to drive on toll roads and $10.00 or more to ride a train one-way.

Transportation in very large heavily-populated major metro areas comes at a premium and costs much more than transportation in sparcely-populated rural areas to build, operate and maintain because the needs of an urban population are much different than the needs of a rural population, who still has needs mind you, just needs that are dramatically different from that of an urban area with more people to consider.

People in Atlanta are just going to have to come to grips with the fact that they are going to have to pay substantially more than they have been paying if they really want better roads and transit.

If Metro Atlantans really do want better transportation options to serve their urban-suburban-exurban population they are going to have to decide whether they want to pay more in user fees (tolls and fares) or taxes (gas taxes, sales taxes, etc) and accept it.

Otherwise, if Metro Atlantans decide that they don’t want to pay more in either said user fees or taxes for better roads and transit then we are just going to have quit our constant whining and bit*hing and moaning and complaining about the traffic and the lack of transit.

That’s just the way it is. Deal with it.

Rick Day May 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm

So what will you guys do if Obama comes out in opposition. That means you SUPPORT OBAMA!

It’s inevitable. At least I supported Mr Bush’s plan to fly to Mars.

Captain America May 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm

{Spammed comment containing only a link to candidate’s website containing no commentary deleted, for the second time. See below}

debbie0040 May 29, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Captain, that is a great video by Jason Spencer!! Glad to see him take an active role opposing T-SPLOST..

Charlie June 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Captain America, a/k/a Jason Spencer,

I warned you the last time you decided to just drop a self-promoting link on our blog to not do this again. But you don’t appear to actually read our blog, you just like to stop by and use it for self promotion without any attempt to engage in conversation. Instead, you appear to just want to use it to redirect traffic to your own site.

This is not a way to build friends here. In fact, it’s a good way to lose your ability to post here at all.

Your User ID and IP address are now suspended. Please inquire to the tipline if you would like to have them reinstated.

Jackster May 30, 2012 at 8:36 am

I always thought the main issue with mass transit and Atlanta is the density – we aren’t dense enough to have a really nice system. However, it would make sense to me that MARTA stations extend out to the burbs – Cherokee, Forsyth, Gwinnett, and Fayette counties.

I’m just saying – if MARTA is a part of the mix – make it big.

I’m personally stuck on the thought of giving GDOT more $$ when then can’t even manage what they have, as well as the likelihood that projects slated for construction could change depending on politicians’ whims.

I guess in the end, I’m just confused as to if we pay taxes as it is, why hasn’t this stuff been taken care of in the first place?

Harry May 30, 2012 at 10:04 am

if we pay taxes as it is, why hasn’t this stuff been taken care of in the first place?
A lot of what you are paying taxes for is going to wasteful welfare spending and Georgia state employee holidays such as “Confederate Memorial Day.” So they use road improvement needs to try to convince you that even more taxes are required.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

“So they use road improvement needs to try to convince you that even more taxes are required.”

BINGO! They’ve got no real intention of spending all of the money on road improvement needs, their only real intention is to line their already deep pockets with even more of our money.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm

The main issue with mass transit and transportation in Atlanta in general isn’t so much the density as much as it is the people in charge of running it (see the ongoing sick bureaucratic joke that is MARTA and the even sicker, more demented bureaucratic joke that GDOT has devolved into).

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm

“I always thought the main issue with mass transit and Atlanta is the density – we aren’t dense enough to have a really nice system. However, it would make sense to me that MARTA stations extend out to the burbs – Cherokee, Forsyth, Gwinnett, and Fayette counties.”

It’s not politically feasible to extend MARTA heavy rail or any kind of rail that is managed by MARTA out to the suburbs and exurbs, especially out to politically-ultraconservative Cherokee, Forsyth and Fayette counties where the terms “MARTA” and “transit” are basically four-letter words for which the mere suggestion of extending MARTA outside of Fulton and DeKalb counties is an insult of the highest order.

Cherokee, Forsyth and Fayette counties don’t want anything to do with MARTA and rightfully so with the way that the agency continues to be (mis) managed and basically sabotaged at both the local and state levels.

Regional commuter rail might be more acceptable to those who live in Southern Cherokee County, especially in the City/town of Woodstock where there is a very active renaissance occurring within historic Downtown Woodstock around the site of a potential future regional commuter rail station on the Georgia Northeastern Railroad line that runs directly through Downtown Woodstock.

Officials and residents in Fayette County have repeatedly stated that they want nothing to do with any type of regional rail transit network that would potentially serve the Atlanta Region, both with commuter rail and, especially, MARTA while there are no existing freight rail lines that connect Atlanta to Forsyth County.

The good news is that any potential regional commuter rail system can be implemented without serving both Fayette and Forsyth counties, with express commuter bus service remaining the best possible transit option to serve those communities, geographically, logistically and, especially, politically.

Self_Made May 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

Last Dem…I see you get my point. The level of sprawl in metro Atlanta makes transit less about density and more about access and affordability. There are stretches of New Jersey and Long Island that are served by commuter rail without the aforementioned density. Its about getting into NYC/Newark without the stress of traffic and the cost of fuel and parking. I’d rather spend 2 hours on mass transit than 2 hours in my vehicle stressing out, burning gas, and wasting time and money. There are people in this town who commute 100 miles per day because some executive decided to move the office “closer to home”…leaving many employees with no choice but abandoning their home lives just to get back and forth to work every day. I don’t care if the rail goes down the I-20 corridor or the CSX corridor, but I fail to see how investing $220 MILLION on a SINGLE BUS LINE does anything to relieve the traffic and the current expansion offers only incremental improvement. Despite what folks from the northern suburbs or the exburbs think, there is NOT enough transit in South DeKalb. Bus lines have been cut, current express service is insufficient, and we have no rail…and the current TIA project list only attempts to address one of those issues…in exchange for DOUBLING our transportation taxes (not counting tax on fuel). We don’t need a “political bone”, we need mobility worthy of our investment.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm

“I don’t care if the rail goes down the I-20 corridor or the CSX corridor, but I fail to see how investing $220 MILLION on a SINGLE BUS LINE does anything to relieve the traffic and the current expansion offers only incremental improvement.”

Here’s a little secret: If the TIA/T-SPLOST passes, much, if not most, of that $225 million allocated towards that bus line on I-20 East will most likely go to build the “fixed guideway” that the buses will run in outside of I-285 out to Conyers.

And when I say “fixed guideway” I mean the elevated HOT/HOV-3 lanes that GDOT proposes to run out I-20 East of I-285 out to Conyers.

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